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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jewish Financiers Helping USA Treasury

Nadene Goldfoot
In early colonial times a few individual Jews in America had the occupation of being money brokers, like Asser Levy who lived in New York City in the 2nd half of the 17h century.  Isaac Moses was one of the founders of the Bank of New York.

A Jewish broker , Haym Solomon/Salomon was the friend of Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance under George Washington for the 13 colonies.  Morris turned to Solomon for help in raising needed money to carry on the Revolutionary War and save the emerging nation from financial collapse. 

Salomon advanced direct loans to the government and also donated his own money to pay the salaries of government officials and army officers. From 1781-1784 there were 75 transactions between Morris and Solomon.  On September 3, 1783, the Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris but Solomon managed to raise the money to bailout the debt-ridden goverment time after time. 

In 1939 Warner Brothers made the movie: Sons of Liberty: with Claude Rains as Salomon.  In WWII, the US liberty ship SS Haym Salomon was named in his honor.  Haym was born April 7, 1740 and died January 6, 1785.  He was an immigrant from Poland but was Sephardic, being Spanish and Portuguese.  Arriving in New York during the American Revolution, he was impressed with the Patriot cause and joined the Sons of Liberty in NY.  In Philadelphia he continued his profession as broker. 

Solomon spoke 8 languages, useful in those days of dealing with other countries and finances.  The sum owed to Solomon was about $800,000, which in 1785 was like $40 billion today.  He was not paid back.

During the Civil War, Uriah P. Levy offered Lincoln his entire forture for the USA, but Lincoln refused it.  So Levy bought Federal bonds to help the nation.  Joseph Seligman and August Belmont helped to get loans and sell bonds.  Lincoln then said, no class of citizenship in the US was superior in patriotism to those of the Jewish faith. 

Judah Benjamin was in the Davis cabinet and worked hard to get European financing for the South.  He worked out a deal to get European credit with Emile Erlanger, a Jewish banker who headed the most distinguished banking house in France.  Other Jews helped in the war offering their own resources and knowledge.  Despite their patriotism, anti-semitism was still alive.  Jews were used like before, as scapegoats for the present problems. 

The total assets of Jewish firms were small compared to those of the American banking system as a whole.  They have been the focus of antisemitic agitation from the 1890's in particular on,   The fiscal policies of their banks tended to be conservative and they exercised their profits with a high degree of social and fiscal responsibility.  The rest of the commercial banking in the USA remained relatively closed to Jews despite Jews in related fields as stock brokerage, investment analysis and corporate management.  In 1939 a study was done which found that out of 93,000 bankers in the USA, only 0.6% were Jewish.  Even in New York City, Jews formed only 6% of banking executives as compared to 28% of the general population.  Discrimination against Jews in major banks throughout the country continue.  In 1968 the AJC filed a complaint with the Human Right Commission of NYC charging the banking system with job bias against Jews.  Senator William Proxmire in a 1978 interview with the financial columnist for Esquire magazine stated that the USA banks are controlled by the most Waspish elements....with no Jews, no Catholics, and no blacks running the show.  It's completely one-sided, too much Anglo-Saxon." 

After the 1st Crusade in 1096, Jewish merchants had to take long journeys and had no security.  In Western and Central Europe, especially Spain, people tried to drive out Jews from commerce and crafts.  Jews had to turn to loan-banking in order to make a living.  Between the 12th and 15th centuries,  Jews were the main people  involved in this occupation because Christians were prevented from this livelihood by their own cononical prohibitions like the 4th Lateran Council of 1215.  Therefore it's not surprising that the few Jewish men that have survived have gone into their ancestors' professions. 

Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" aided and abeted anti-semitism with his villain being a money-lending Jew.    At the time he wrote the play, no Jews had lived openly in England for 300 years, and throughout Europe Christian banking houses were the principal moneylenders-finally. 

Anyone in those days associated with the business of money during the early days of feudalism changing into capitalism ran the risk of being mistrusted and hated, even the Christians such as the Lombards.  There were so many Christians ignoring or defying the prohibition of being moneylenders that in 1179, the 3rd Lateran Council had to reiterate the position against the practice, but Jews still were a smaller group as Christians managed to continue.  Jews had it even rougher due to  the financial connotations connected with the New Testament towards Jews.  The Christians actually preferred the Jewish usurer.  "Christians were worse than Jews", a left handed compliment for Jews was known. 

The bankers of the feudal age were the moneylenders involved with manufacturers and international commerce that was rapidly growing.  The world had an increasing need for loans.  Yet, when Jews earned any kind of wealth, they found most of it was taxed, fined, or taken away in the form of "contributions."  Often a ruler simply declared a moratorium on debts to Jewish moneylenders.  Crusaders had the interest on their loans from "Jew-usurers rescinded by special dispensation.  Often Jews were imprisoned or murdered at the request of influential debtors.  Violent attacks on Jewish moneylenders grew and debtors incited pogroms as their way to default on loans from Jews. 

The anti-semitic slurs keep repeating the fiction that Jews control the banks and "all Jews are rich."  Some well known bankers are the J.P. Morgans, the Rockfellers and the Mellons, and they are not Jewish.  Sammy Davis Jr, a black entertainer, had converted to Judaism.  He said, " After I decided to become a Jew, only then did I learn the Jews don't really have all the money.   When I found out Rockfeller and Ford were goyim, I almost resigned."  A majority of the Jews today fall under the middle and upper middle class.  They came poor but were able to raise their standard of living faster than many immigrant groups to America.  They have believed in hard work and education for their children, and denied themselves to reach the American dream. They had the lowest rate of alcoholism.   Typical of this was my father. 

We have a Jewish lady who wrote a poem to help raise money for the Statue of Liberty.  Emma Lazarus wrote: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."  This land was for those who had been denied freedom and opportunity in their native lands.  And here Jews are still hearing accusations of being the cause of financial woes today  in the latest " occupation USA, rolling out from some organizers". 

Book: Just Because They're Jewish by M. Hirsh Goldberg p. 179-197

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